2 College of Engineering Students Selected for Brooke Owens Fellowship

By Sarah Chase

Two students sit on a bench outside

Sindhu Belki (left) and Zariah Orr

College of Engineering students Sindhu Belki and Zariah Orr are two of 47 undergraduate students in the nation selected for the Brooke Owens Fellowship, a nationally acclaimed nonprofit program that awards exceptional undergraduate women and gender minorities with an internship in the fields of space and aviation.

Belki, a native of Doha, Qatar, and Orr, a native Lincoln, Alabama, will take part in the program that pairs each fellow with a summer internship at one of the leading aerospace companies. Orr, a junior double majoring in physics and aerospace engineering, will intern with the United Launch Alliance this summer in Colorado, where she will focus on structural analysis and propulsion systems. She will assist a team with design activities and with primary and secondary structures. 

“This has been the best accomplishment and highlight of my academic career. It is truly an honor to be a part of such an amazing group of women and gender minorities in STEM,” Orr said. “This, for me, has been the product that I have been waiting for that tells me everything I am doing is paying off.” 

Belki, a senior aerospace engineering major, will intern with SES Satellites in Manassas, Virginia, as a ground systems engineer with the gateway operations team. Her focus will lie in understanding the company’s system to optimize its response to emergencies involving satellites and mitigating risks.

“It is fellowships like this that remind me that being different is not a bad thing and that my identity means something,” Belki said. “It reminds me that they value diversity within the industry because these are the voices that are going to make the industry more inclusive and accessible for all people.”

Along with the internship, Belki and Orr will also travel to Washington, D.C, for a networking summit, where the 2024 fellows will meet with more than 350 alumnae of the Brooke Owens Fellowship program. Belki looks forward to meeting and learning from others in the industry during the summit in order to accomplish her long-term goal of becoming the first Qatari-based astronaut. 

“[The fellowship] helps grow and expand your network, so this opportunity is fantastic because growing one’s network is one of the biggest advantages in this industry,” Belki said. “The more people you know, the more you are able to bounce ideas off people and get more feedback.” 

As part of the fellowship, Belki and Orr will also be paired with an executive-level mentor who is a senior leader in the aerospace industry and a peer-level mentor from the Brooke Owens Fellowship alumnae network. Orr hopes that what she learns as a fellow will guide her through her graduate school and workforce aspirations.

“This opportunity will help me advance by being able to gain real-world knowledge and experiences during my internship,” Orr said. “In addition, it will allow me to make lifelong connections that will better my career. I also hope I can do the same for others one day.”

To read more about the Brooke Owens Fellowship and the other 2024 recipients, click here: 

In 1837, The University of Alabama became one of the first five universities in the nation to offer engineering classes. Today, UA’s College of Engineering has more than 5,200 students and more than 170 faculty. In recent years, students in the College have been named USA Today All-USA College Academic Team members, Goldwater, Hollings, Portz, Boren, Mitchell and Truman scholars.

Author: Sarah Chase    /    Posted on: March 1, 2024    /    Posted in:   Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics, Awards and Honors, Students